Unsettling empathy : working with groups in conflict
Part of the Peace and Security in the 21st Century series
This book is an in-depth reflection and analysis on why and how unsettling empathy is a crucial component in reconciliatory processes.
Located at the intersection of memory studies, reconciliation studies, and trauma studies, the book is at its core transdisciplinary, presenting a fresh perspective on how to conceive of concepts and practices when working with groups in conflict.
The book Unsettling Empathy has come into being during a period of increasing cultural pessimism, where we witness the spread of populism and the rise of illiberal democracies that hark back to nationalist and ethnocentric narratives of the past. Because of this changed landscape, this book makes an important contribution to seeking fresh pathways toward an ethical practice of living together in light of past agonies and current conflicts.
Within the specific context of working with groups in conflict, this book urges for an (ethical) posture of unsettling empathy.
Empathy, which plays a vital role in these processes, is a complex and complicated phenomenon that is not without its critics who occasionally alert us to its dark side.
The term empathy needs a qualifier to distinguish it from related phenomena such as pity, compassion, sympathy, benign paternalism, idealized identification, or voyeuristic appropriation.
The word "unsettling" is just this crucial ingredient without which I would hesitate to bring empathy into our conversation.